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The Rachel Maddow Show

News/Business. (2012)

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Fbi 18, Washington 15, Afghanistan 14, Us 13, Utah 13, Colorado 8, Arizona 8, Obama 8, Oregon 7, U.s. 7, J. Edgar Hoover 7, David Petraeus 6, Dan Lundgren 4, Maryland 4, Baltimore 4, Benghazi 4, Oliver 3, Warfarin 3, Petraeus 3, Mitch Mcconnell 3,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2012)  

    November 14, 2012
    1:00 - 2:00am PST  

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if you last spent significant time doing video games when they looked like this. it's disorienting to know that video games now look like this, which is to say it is really hard to tell that they are not movies. ultimately the basic principles are the same in terms of video games then and now. most of them are fighting and shooting games, and for mof them if you're not good at controlling your thumbs, you're not a world champion at the game. the increasing over the top visual realism of modern video games is matched by an empt of video game makers to make the wartime combat featured in popular games really authentic as combat.
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this game is called "medal of honor war fighter. "it was so authentic seven navy s.e.a.l.s were reprimanded for giving classified information about navy s.e.a.l. stuff to the makers of this game, who presumably used it to make it as authentic as possible. a new combat realism game that came out today, they were advised by oliver north. remember him? he was indicted for 16 felonies in the iran contra panel. he was a conservative movement hero. oliver north not only consulted on this new game that comes out today, he appears as a character in the game. look at his hips. in real life i don't think his hips swing like a hula dancer like they do in the game. i don't know. i've never seen him walk. when the character oliver north
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talks in "call of duty black ops 2," it's his real voice. here's the thing about this game that came out today and today's news, and i think a thing i guess nobody saw coming before it happened. the game comes out today and set 13 years in the future. it's set in the year 2025. although the game is supposed to be fiction, the cameo from oliver north is not the only way to make it seem connected to real people in the real world. there's an important scene in the game that takes place on a u.s. aircraft carrier, and that's named the "uss barack obama." and the u.s. defense secretary meeting on the flight deck with the commander of the u.s. aircraft carrier obama is the american defense secretary, who in the game is named david petraeus. before this week it probably was not a bad bet in video game land that in 13 years a then 73-year-old david petraeus might be defense secretary, but now
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today that is a rather bad bet. it means that this video game someday in the future will be unearthed with the same glee and disbelief that accompanied the discovery of the old dating game footage of a future michigan governor, jennifer granholm. president obama was sworn into office as president. at the end of january 2009, just over 100 days after that, less than four months after he was sworn in, the new president did something absolutely remarkable. something that had not been done in more than 50 years. the new president fired the man in charge of the war. >> president obama has said that the war in afghanistan is one the u.s. must win. senior officials here at the pentagon have decided it will take new military leadership to do it. defense secretary robert gates mcmckiernan in afghanistan last
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week to break the bad news, but waited until today to announce it. >> i asked for the resignation of general david mckiernan. >> gates and obama relieving him of command. when they did that and relieved him of command as the lead american commander of the war in afghanistan, that was the first time since general truman fired douglas mcarthur during the korean war that a president relieved a four-star commanding general in the middle of the war he was leading. when president obama did that it was the first time in 58 years anything like that happened in this country, and then he did it again. after he fired the man who was running the war when he took office, the replacement general that president obama sent to lead the war thereafter was this guy, general stanley mcchrystal. there was a immediate contracult around him as around david petraeus. a year after general mcchrisle tal took command, he, too, was fired by president obama. he was fired for in effect
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insubordination after a magazine article portrayed general mccrystal about it. michael hastings story was told in "rolling stone" and told in epic effect in his book called "the operators." after president obama's first commander of the afghanistan war was fired, after his second commander was fired, president obama turned to the most high profile military leader in the country, general david petraeus, to become his third afghanistan war commanding general. that tenure in afghanistan lasted a year. as the president surged tens of thousands of more americans into that country, ultimately tripling the number of troops who were there when he first took office, that year at the front ended for general petraeus when he came back to washington to become head of the cia. a job from which he unexpectedly and suddenly resigned last week saying he had been having an extra-marital affair. meanwhile, yet another
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confirmation hearing is due this week for yet another new commander of the war in afghanistan. marine general joe dunford will take on over the reins from john allen. he took over from general petraeus. while general allen is still running the war over there, he too is caught up in the petraeus affair scandal. his confirmation hearings for his next big job, nato supreme commander, those hearings are on hold while the matter of general allen's only personal relationship with one of the women involved can be sorted out. general allen is in washington for his own now postponed confirmation hearings for his next job and for his own now canceled role in the confirmation hearings for his successor to lead the afghanistan war. in washington he is denying any suggestion that he had an inappropriate relationship with anyone, and the defense department and white house are standing by him while the investigation continues.
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and while he smits his plans to the president now for which americans are going to remain in afghanistan after the official u.s. troop withdrawal from that war, which is not this year, and it's not next year. that doesn't happen anytime during the following yearle until the very end of the year after that. he submitted plans already for american troop presence in afghanistan starting in the year 2015. after president obama signs off on that post-2015 plan in the next couple of weeks, the white house is due to start their plans for how many americans have to stay in the war this year, 2012, and next year, 2013 and the year after that, 2014. those recommendations will come from general allen, who is the tenth u.s. general to lead the u.s. war in afghanistan. before this latest hubalu, he is going to be replaced with planning well under way for year '13 and '14 and something
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different they won't call a war but has americans there in year as 15 going on indefinitely. john allen successor to the disgraced petraeus and mcchrystal and fired mckiernan. he remains in command in afghanistan where americans are risking their necks for a country that has not in a decade paid as much attention to the war as it is paying to the sexual misconduct and disgrace of one of the many, many, many, many, many, many men who have led it. joins us is frank rich, noshz magazine's writer at large. >> great to be here, rachel. >> we have went through a presidential election in which we pretty much did not talk about afghanistan. there's new interest in our military commanders there because of the details surrounding general petraeus and
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these e-mails from general allen. is this inevitable, and can this be a way to turn country's attention back to the war? >> well, it would seem if you turned this long-running war, which i think is really off the public radar screen. it wasn't only not discussed in the campaign, in the debates, it didn't register in the polls like we're not at war, except for the people actually fighting it. to turn it into the "real housewives of tampa" may be the way to sell it or get people interested. i suspect the moment this is resolved in way or another, people will go back to ignoring the war. >> is there any way -- i guess the parallel question other than public interest is political interest. you have seen in congress right now, including some of the republicans returning to congress in the house they still control, a real softening of attitudes on the issue of how long the afghanistan war should go on. i feel like if there's anybody who wants to push on this door, they will find it's an open door and there could be political
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support for leaving sooner than we're planning. >> i think so. i thought it was true before the election. i felt romney was giving signals and even at times almost stating that it's good we're getting out. that shows that kind of softness. who really in this country is pushing for extending it? lindsey graham, john mccain and the departing joe lieberman. i don't know of any other voices in the national political scene who are saying we can't leave. we have to do as long as it takes and stay there forever. there's no public support for it. >> because of this scandal, i just -- i mean, one of the things that you hear from veterans groups, that people outside the military i don't think seem all that comfortable talking about is the personal toll of these long deployments over multiple years on people's personal lives. young veterans bemoan the rate of divorce among veterans. how difficult it is to sustain a family and relationships.
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i don't know why we think it's easier for top commanders than your average infantry man trying to hold his family together. is this potentially -- we tend to defer to the military's own judgment on these things. we ask the commanders on the ground for their own opinion, but is this not another occasion for civilians to say, this is done in our name. the military isn't fighting this war because it wants to, because they want us to be fighting this. could this be an occasion for us to say we're asking the military to do too much for too long now. this is not personally sustainable? >> i'd like to believe it's the case. we went through the stop leave and multiple tours of duty during iraq, which was so many strains, mental, physical, marital on the people fighting and their families. now this is at a high level, possibly a dramatization of the strains even in the privileged part of the military complex. i just -- the public is not engaged.
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it's 1% of the country that's fighting this war. most people sadly don't know people involved in the effort. so it's out of sight, out of mind. this will maybe cast a spotlight, but will it be forgotten as we return to the fiscal cliff or whatever we return to next month or next week. >> in terms of the petraeus affair as it were itself, the story is definitely getting more sorted as days go by, which i think is why it continues to hold public attention so far. as it is getting more sorted, though, it is just getting more personal, or do you actually see it getting more political now? is this at this point a scandal or a tragedy? >> i think it's just a tragedy. i mean, based on what we know now, it seems to be there's some things about it that are scandalous. i don't understand how a general could be involved in 20 or 30,000 pages worth of e-mail, like allen, how is he doing his job? >> very short --
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>> very short but 20,000 to 30,000. my god. i do think that it's really more -- so far it's the level of personal tragedy, and i think everyone understands that. there was an attempt by republicans to try to connect it to benghazi, to aaccuse obama of a coverup before the election as if it had been known before the election it would have had any effect. it wouldn't have. i think the political efforts are now over or seem to be subsiding, and so we're left with what this country really loves, a good, sorted sex scandal. >> on the issue of benghazi, the president is trying to put together his second term cabinet. there's been a lot of talk where john kerry is going to go. whether he would be secretary of state or defense. there's this question about whether susan rice might be elevated to secretary of state. the republicans, of course, tried to turn it into a national scandal that she commented after the benghazi attack and said that at that point best intelligence indicated it might
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have something to do with that protest about the film. the intelligence community later changed its mind saying they don't think it's related. the republicans have tried to hang her out to dry on that subject. do you think that's over, or if she gets the secretary of state nomination, it's a real hurdle for her? >> i don't think it's a real hurdle if she gets it. frankly, i don't think republicans want to go up against a very distinguished african-american woman in public life with no grounds whatsoever. getting back to kerry, kerry, who actually did serve, could be and has been in the past a great voice for what you're talking about for taking care of our military, taking care of our veterans, dealing with these issues in whatever big post he ends up in, he certainly did it as a senator, that would be a big plus. >> connecting with the country's concerns to the war that we're still fighting that we prefer not to talk about. it's a big job, but somebody has to do it. thanks for being here. appreciate it. >> news ahead on liberal seeming things that happen in utah.
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also, election results still due to come in. next, president obama's mini summit today with a who's who of liberal america on purpose. that's next.
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do you plan to stay on as the leader and run again? >> let's see. what time is it now? 2:00 on tuesday. i'll see you right here 10:00 tomorrow morning. while i love you all very dearly, i thought maybe i would talk to my own caucus before i shared that information with you. >> that's the top democrat in the house, nancy pelosi responding to a question this afternoon about her future in the leadership. 10:00 tomorrow morning. we have to wait until then for her to share any information about whether she intends to try to stay on as leader of the democrats in congress. that was 2:00 this afternoon she said it. then here's the press release mrs. pelosi's office sent out later in the afternoon about
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that 10:00 a.m. press conference tomorrow morning. they say the topic is to highlight the historic number of women elected as parts of the house democratic caucus. does that sound like the kind of event you'd hold if you were stepping down from the leadership, especially if you like nancy pelosi was an intee gral part of women in the congress? we'll have more on her future and the many, many surprises. the many awkward surprises, aa freshman orientation week on capitol hill is just ahead. stay with us.
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today was orientation on capitol hill. with some races still undecided
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in this year's election, orientation this year is even more awkward than usual. one of this year's still to be decided races is a house contest in california between dan lundgren and his democratic challenge. mr. barra leads in the vote count but it hasn't been officially declared. there was mr. berra at orientation, and who runs the orientation for new members of congress? dan lundgren, his opponent, the committee that dan lundgren chairs runs of orientation for new members of congress. with that particular race still undecided but with dan behind in the case, dan lundgren had the job today of training the guy who looks like he's about to oust him from congress. awkward. but not the most awkward thing in congress today. that prize today was won in the senate, and specifically by republican leader there mitch
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mcconnell who really wanted today's photo-op with the three new republican senators in washington to be a he simple smile and shoot affair. it was not. >> every two years it's been the week na new senators come to town for orientation. i'm pleased to be here with our new members who have a couple of days here to get used to the way it gets started in the united states senate. >> there are only three new republican members of the u.s. senate this year. while there are eight new democrats and a new independent. so that alone is an uncomfortable position for mitch mcconnell and the three new senators forced into this horribly awkward photo-op today including one whose race is not necessarily settled in arizona where they are still counting. so it was awkward enough when mr. mcconnell thought reporters would stand there silently and take their picture after he gave those brief remarks. it got much, much worse when the reporters decided not to just take pictures.
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they were going to speak. >> the election is behind us, and we're ready to get started. thank you, everyone. >> senator mcconnell, are you comfortable with the investigation that is taking place in the petraeus affair and do you believe that the fbi should have notified congress earlier about this matter? >> thank you everybody. thank you, everybody. >> senator elect flake, do you agree with senator mcconnell? >> did you get your official result, senator flake? is it senator flake? >> we're comfortable. >> are you going to compromise. >> come on guys, go. come on. >> can you not push me and push everybody else. >> yup, push it along. >> push it along. nothing to see here, even though we invited you here to watch us sit here in these chairs. we didn't want you to speak to us once we stopped talking. meanwhile, over at the white
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house the president spent his congressional orientation day meeting with liberals, true blue liberals, lots of them. unlike most of my adult life, the liberals weren't at the white house to protest outside. no, they were there to talk with the president of the united states at his invitation. several different labor unions, the liberal think tank and the center for budget and policy priorities and the common purpose project and the national committee to preserve social security and medicare, move on, the center for community change was today's meeting at the white house. tomorrow the president is going to host a big meeting for business leaders. he's also holding a press conference. on friday the president will meet with congressional leaders including, as we mentioned, the democratic leader in the houmt nancy pelosi, about whom there's much speculation recently and who is due to announce tomorrow morning whether she will stay on aas leader of the democrats in the house. i do not play poker. i am not a betting person, and i
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am bad at predictions. my ge is it's a cold day in hell when nancy pelosi steps aside from a job that remains to be done. we'll see tomorrow.
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so you know this whole general petraeus sex scandal people and how people in washington are upset they found out about it when you and i found out about it, you know how they're are now conspiracy theories about why the fbi didn't tip off more people
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sooner than they did? what if there was actually a good reason for that? a whole bunch of good reasons. i believe in keeping the tinfoil hat handy at all times. you never know when you need it, but this story ought to be enough to keep everybody riveted without making up stuff about it. that's coming up with help from the ghost of j. edgar hoover. [ male announcer ] this is bob, a regular guy with an irregular heartbeat. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib: atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem, a condition that puts him at greater risk for a stroke. [ gps ] turn left.
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thinchts the list of rum that is sold in the state of utah. this is the full list of light rum, white rum that you be buy in utah. the kind of rum to make a daquari. this is better than the mezcal list. that's two legally, even though one of the two mezcals apparently has illegal as its brand name. this is all you can legally get as far as it goes mezcal in the state of utah. however, if you have a kind of rum or a kind of mezcal or even a label of wine that you would like to be able to get but that isn't on the utah state list, you can request it from the
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state government. if you click on the little shopping cart there on the website, it takes you to the special orders page where you can ask your state government to please buy you some better mezcal or whatever. you have to ask them, though. they do try to be helpful. they're a whole section of the state government's website about how to best pair the wines of the state of utah with various types of food. this is not like a tourism thing. this is not an export things or wines made in utah. it's wines from everywhere, but the state has to get them for you. used to be a state employee in utah whose job it was to taste every alcohol and wine and whiskey the state was considering allowing into the state to be sold. i don't know if there is someone with that job, but it wasn't that long ago. that's because in utah the department of alcoholic beverage control is not only tasked with enforcing liquor laws in the state giving out licenses, they choose which wines and beers and spirits the citizens of the state of utah may purchase.
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the state government on behalf of its residents tastes wine and decides if it is good enough for utah. whether did the states deal with booze is really weird. i always thought it's because we had a long, strange, national failed experiment called prohibition that was not that long ago. when prohibition ended in 1933, americans could legally buy and sell and drink booze for the first time in 13 years. people were obviously psyched when prohibition ended, but there was a the lot of policy to figure out how to sell and regulate alcohol. would cities do it? would states do it? the federal government? do you need a license to sell alcohol? how old to drink alcohol? states came up with their own answers to those questions, and the laws between the states all these decades later are diverse. today for example 18 states are called control states, which means they control the wholesale and retail sales of alcohol. that's why in a controlled state
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like utah, the state chooses your wines for you and hopefully we will help you pair them with dinner. maryland is not a control state, but there's one county in the state, montgomery county that does it that way, too. le a little taste of utah in the middle of maryland. it isn't just between places that have state stores for booze and states that don't have state stores. i mean, in some places you can buy beer or wine or hard stuff at the rite aid or gas station. in some places you can buy beer at a gags station, but spirits come from a state store that looks like a prison. there are all the different levels of control on the sale and distribution of booze up to and including the state becoming the retailer that sells you the booze. now that is about to happen with pot, too, sort of. three states had wide-ranging new rules about pot the on the ballot this year. not about medical marijuana but recreationalal use of marijuana. it passed in washington and colorado but not in oregon,
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which is oregon is a more blue state than colorado is. oregon was voting on something slightly different. the model of the state-run store that sells all the liquor in the state than utah, that is what oregon was considering for pot. the state would regulate people growing and processing pot and getting it ready to be sold. in oregon the proposal was that the state itself would buy all of the pot in the state and then sell that pot to oregon residents, presumably at stores that look like prisons like with whiskey in north carolina and utah and a bunch of other states, too. that model of how to deal with legalized pot is what was rejected in oregon this year, but what was accepted in colorado and washington state, on the other hand, was a proposal that those states should license and regulate people to grow marijuana. license and regulate people to
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process it and prepare it for sale. then in colorado and washington what they said is that the state should also regulate normal businesses, private for profit stores to operate like regular liquor stores, like regular businesses selling this new illegal product regulated and taxed by the state. that is the proposal that won by ten points in colorado and by 12 points in washington state. according to these ballot initiatives, it will not be illegal to buy or possess less than an ounce poft over the age of 21. on paper it's that pot is regulated much like alcohol is, but the really important difference is, the really important difference is that according to the federal government and therefore for the whole united states of america everywhere according to the federal government it's illegal to buy or sell pot. that's just as much the law as these new state laws that say the opposite. what's going to happen here? is it legal or not? is it going to be legal to buy and sell and smoke pot in colorado and washington, or is it not? we are not the only ones asking
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this question. the people in charge are asking the question, too. the governor of colorado has indicated he also has no idea how this is going to work. on election day he put out a state reminding coloradans under federal law pot is still ellegal, so they should hold off on the cheat toes and goldfish for the time being. they met with the deputy attorney general to figure out how this will be handles. meanwhile prosecutors in the two largest counties in washington state have taken matters into their own hands. they have dropped hundreds of cases of pot possession in that state. hundreds of criminal cases have been dropped. the king county prosecutor says there's no point in continuing
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to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month. true enough. however, in the same state out in the eastern part of washington state and spokane county, prosecutors there say they plan to keep arresting people just as they do now for pot related offenses. their argument in spokane is the only legal way to get pot in washington even after this new state law goes into effect will be to buy that pot from a state regulated pot store. and those state regulated pot stores don't exist yet, but they might soon be created if the federal government allows that to happen and nobody knows that the government will allow them to happen. this is policy soup, and i don't mean this as a munchies joke. this doesn't make any sense yet. joining us for the interview is neil frank linn. he served in law enforcement for 30 years as a narcotics officer with the maryland state police and is commander of training for the baltimore police department. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. what a great lead-in. >> you are familiar with the laws than i am. did i get the contours of that right? do you feel like the comparison
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with alcohol prohibition is appropriate here? >> absolutely. it is appropriate. it was the states back in 1933 that ended alcohol prohibition. they were the ones that took the initiative to move the federal government towards change. >> you are a supporter, i know, of the decriminalization of marijuana. with your background in law enforcement specifically in narcotics, how did you come to this political point of view? >> well, it didn't happen overnight, but there was one key moment back in 2000, october. i had just retired from the maryland state police the year before and went to work for baltimore police department as a commander of training. a good friend of mine and comrade ed to thely was working undercover for the state police. he was assigned to an fbi task force in washington, d.c., and he was buying drugs from a mid-level drug dealer. this time the drug dealer decided he wanted to keep the drugs and the money, and he
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executed ed totley right on the spot. he shot him in the side of the head. that made me start to think, i thought back to marcellus ward, who was working undercover for the baltimore police department when he was back in the '80s. he was killed in a similar matter. a couple of officers were killed right on the street by drug dealers, but a couple years after, the dawson family of 7 right here in baltimore were murdered one night by a drug dealer who occupied the corner right outside their home. the mother was working with the police being a good citizen. he set the home on fire because he disagreed with her interfering with her marketplace. that was my turning point. >> when you talk to people who disagree on this issue and when you make the case for decriminalization. how do you explain why incidents of violence like that, people that you know and worked with and seen colleagues die in the
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line of fire on the war on drugs, how do you make the case that decriminalization would get rid of that saturday sort of horrific violence. >> not decriminalization. that does remove the criminal penalty from possession. you still would have your elicit trade, the drug dealers on the street, the cartel in mexico. legalization with regulation and control is what we want to do. we want to remove this completely from the hands of criminal gangs and the cartel. that will affect the violence. that's when the violence goes down. >> in terms of what's been approved by voters in colorado and washington state, it seems unclear to me now what will happen in the states. where state law is in opposition to federal law. how is law enforcement going to handle this, and ultimately is this a decision that's made at the political level or at the law enforcement level? >> well, it's made at both levels, and i think this is a win-win for police. in seattle the police chief said
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they're not going to arrest people for possession of marijuana anymore, even though the law doesn't take effect until december. it's a win-win because it has been drug prohibition like with marijuana that has driven a wedge in between police and community. number one, police can get back to the business that they want to do, of what they want to do, and that is to protect people from violent people. rape, robbery, murder. crimes against our children, domestic violence. we can get back to the business of that. we didn't -- most of us didn't sign on this job to it arrest people for smoking pot. it will repair -- it gives us an opportunity to repair the damage that has been done between police and community. you know, racial profiling, the foundation for racial profiling today in this country is the drug war. the drug war just doesn't work anymore. there's not one piece of it that works.
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we have more drugs in our community than ever before. it's very costly. four decades, $1.3 trillion. our prisons are bursting at the seams with black and brown people. we need a change, and it's time for the president to lead on this one. >> neal franklin, a three-decade long career in law enforcement. thank you very much for your time tonight. you speak with uncommon authority on this subject. thank you. >> thank you, rachel. >> i can't help but wonder, what would j. edgar hoover have done with the petraeus file? hold on. that's coming up.
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neither can they. so you're going on tour to prove it. downy unstopables. follow jimmy's unstopables tour on youtube.
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did you get your official results, senator flake? is it senator flake? >> congressman jeff flake of arizona, not senator jeff flake, not senator-elect jeff flake. awkwardly telling reporters today he feels comfortable about the vote count in his senate race in arizona. that was at this morning's less than comfortable photo-op with minority leader mitch mcconnell along with two actually totally all the votes have been counted entirely official republican freshmen senators-elect. there were two of them and then there's jeff flake. that's the problem with being from the state of arizona these days. a full week after election day and only 83% of the vote is tallied in the race.
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yesterday that number was at 80%, meaning roughly 1:5 votes in that race still uncounted. that led the campaign to say maybe they conceded that senate race too soon. arizona have been counting ballots at a snail's pace working through hundreds of thousands of ballots, many provisional ballots from first-time minority voters who showed up to vote on election day to be told that even though they may have registered, their names were not put on the books. today officials in pima and cochise counties, only 700 votes separate two candidates. who wins could depend on whether voters in a heavily latino precinct in that district get their ballots kountded, and that is a matter for the courts.
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the republican campaign, the mcsally campaign went to court today to keep 130 provisional ballots from being counted. they want them thrown out. they claim the envelopes weren't properly sealed, so the ballots inside the envelopes were maybe tampered with. 96 of the 130 ballots come from a heavily latino precinct. two more house races in arizona were not decided on election night have been decided both in favor of the democrats. they will both be going to congress by only a few thousand votes in arizona house races. last night the arizona secretary of state announced ballots in arizona still needed to be counted. tonight it's still over 300,000. they've still got more than 320,000 still to count, and in one whole day of counting they made 18,000 votes worth of progress. really? voters in arizona who cast provisional ballots have until
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the close of business tomorrow, wednesday, to return to your county elections office with your i.d. to prove you're a registered vote so your provisional ballot can be counted. county elections officials have until friday, three days from now, to verify and count remaining provisional ballots, all 324,000 of them. by friday. and they're counting them now at a rate of 18,000 a day. you guys need to pick up the pace to meet the deadline, aren't you? come on, arizona, this is ridiculous. you need to fix this.
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in 1942, the federal bureau of investigation broke into the offices of a group called the american youth congress. 1942. american youth congress was a progressive group at a time when that could get you branded a
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communist and hauled before government officials to defend yourself. at the time, the american youth congress was concerned with questions like why young americans were being drafted into war at age 18, even though for every other legal thing in the country people were not considered to have full rights of citizenship until they turned 21. when the fbi broke into their offices in 1942, they went looking for correspondence they had with one specific notorious anti-american revolutionary of the day, the first lady. eleanor roosevelt, known for being an advocate for youth and causes including youth congress. the demand for report on eleanor roosevelt's dealings with that group came directly from the director of the fbi, j. edgar hoover. one of the more notable examples of our top law enforcement agency being used to gather potentially politically damaging, potentially embarrassing, but hardly
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criminal information about public figures, but it was not of course the last instance of that. decades later, we're still wrestling with the legacy of j. edgar hoover and the fiefdom he made of the fbi. he kept extensive files he called official and confidential files. there were secret documents that tracked the lives of famous and powerful people, including details about those peoples' lives that were not criminal but would have been embarrassing to those famous people if they became known. he kept these special files in his office, out of the mainstream of fbi business, away from the criminal investigations that were supposed to be what the fbi was doing. he kept those secret files because the secrets they contained gave him power. and as such, they were not suited to any law enforcement purpose but to his needs and that's called abuse of power. we now know from released hoover files that he wire tapped president john f. kennedy.
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we know he told president kennedy he was aware of an extramarital affair he was having, and then he told the president which chicago mobster his mistress was also visiting. as civil rights unfolded, he wire tapped martin luther king junior. he tracked his personal life, including supposedly which day of the week he supposedly met with his mistress. apparently it was tuesdays. in the secrets of the fbi, ronald kessler wrote the agent duly recorded that robert kennedy had gone to visit his suspected extramarital sweetheart, marilyn monroe, shortly before she died. and all these stories might peak the public's interest. none criminal in nature. each of them gave j. edgar hoover power over these public people whose secrets he harvested. he used federal law enforcement tactics and resources to gather personal and noncriminal damning information on public people and then lorded it over them to advance his own causes. under j. edgar hoover, the fbi became a free-lance agency, sometimes used against the
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president, but it was sometimes for hire by the president. like when the fbi tapped the phones of reporters that richard nixon didn't like, and sometimes the fbi was just used for the sake of j. edgar hoover's sad twisted little ends. when the fbi, yes, worked on crime, but under hoover the fbi worked on politics, too. the agency's efforts in the latter undermined everything the nation needed from the fbi on the former. that's why congress ordered reforms for the fbi after watergate. investigating crime while also secretly playing politics is a combination with a bad outcome. that's one of the things we learned from the scandal of the nixon administration and its downfall, but also from decades watching j. edgar hoover operate. last week we learned general david petraeus had an affair.
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the fbi discovered that affair over the summer while it was looking into something else. those revelations led to protest from members of congress that they had not been told sooner than last week, along with everyone else. they wanted to be notified about this. ranking democrat on the intelligence committee dianne feinstein says the fbi should have told congress, bipartisan, republican, homeland security committee calms alerting congress in an instance like this the fbi's obligation. lawmakers are sure to demand answers for why they were not told what the fbi knew as soon as the fbi knew it. they're sure to demand answers about that later this week when house officials are called to testify about the attack on our consulate in benghazi. we're still wondering whether or not david petraeus will be called to testify, too. the story about petraeus is
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quite another thing. one is a matter of national and international importance, the other appears to be unfortunate end of a decorated military career, the cratering of one guy's family life, maybe one woman's family life, too. mindful of the legacy of j. edgar hoover, the fbi kept the embarrassing personal details of david petraeus' private life separate from the question of whether he broke the law. we are all human. we would all like to know about the affair petraeus, has become the must see soap opera of the national week now that the election is over and the new congress begins. it is way more gripping than the inaptly named fiscal cliff. it is more important to the press. from senators to members of congress to little old me and you, we would all like to know more about the petraeus scandal in the basic sense. i wager not many of us, even those hopping mad lawm